Washington County Stalking Lawyer
All too often, relationships that end badly cause one person to act inappropriately or engage in behaviors that violate the privacy of the other person. When their conduct crosses the line and creates a reasonable fear of harm or emotional distress, they may face stalking charges. As the penalties for this crime can be severe, consulting a Washington County stalking lawyer may be your best means of developing a strong defense strategy in your case.
Working with a criminal lawyer may be in your best interest, especially if you are charged with stalking in addition to other crimes. Getting legal counsel in this situation could be invaluable to your rights and when building a defense to the charges.
Stalking Charges in Washington County
Although state law does not have a separate crime of domestic violence, it does have a stalking law in place. Under Md. Code, Crim. Law § 3-802, stalking occurs when individuals engage in a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or following others when they intend or reasonably know that that their behavior would place the other people in reasonable fear of any of the following:
- Substantial bodily injury
- Any level of assault
- Rape or a sexual offense, or attempted rape or a sexual request
- False imprisonment or death
Alternatively, stalking may occur when the accused person’s intent to cause or reasonably know that their conduct will cause severe mental distress.
Md. Code, Crim. Law § 3-801 defines a course of conduct that is a necessary element of a stalking offense as any persistent and continued pattern of behaviors that consist of a series of acts that occur over time. To constitute stalking, alleged actions must show a continuity of purpose to qualify as a course of conduct. However, as a stalking lawyer in Washington County could advise, the stalking statute specifically exempts conduct that occurs according to a court order, that is to carry out a specific lawful commercial purpose, or that is authorized or protected by state or federal law.
Penalties for Washington County Stalking
Stalking is a misdemeanor under state law that can result in up to five years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine. The sentence for a stalking conviction is separate from any other criminal convictions for actions that can make up the stalking offense. As a result, stalking charges often accompany additional criminal charges that arise out of the same incident.
For instance, a closely related crime is harassment, which may establish the course of conduct that results in stalking. A harassment conviction can result in a 90-day jail sentence and a $500 fine for a first offense, and that sentence would be in addition to any sentence that individuals receive for the stalking conviction.
Stalking takes many forms and can include behaviors that qualify as other crimes in addition to the stalking charges. When facing multiple criminal charges related to stalking, individuals could be facing several years of imprisonment, thousands in fines, and a permanent criminal record. As a result, individuals charged with stalking or related crimes should not hesitate to contact a stalking attorney in Washington County right away.
Contact a Washington County Stalking Attorney for Advice
While an isolated incident typically does not rise to the level of stalking, repeated acts that cause others to fear harm or suffer mental distress could result in a stalking charge. Individuals also could be accused of related crimes, depending on the nature of the behaviors involved in the alleged stalking. Relying on the advice of a Washington County stalking lawyer may be vital to your ability to avoid loss of your freedom.